Tagged in: veteran

Milwaukee Brewers designate outfielder Lorenzo Cain, 36, for assignment after ‘a great career’

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain was designated for assignment on Saturday, the team revealed before its game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Cain, 36, was hitting .179 in 145 at-bats while the Brewers’ offense struggled throughout June. The veteran was 4-for-26 this month with no walks and seven strikeouts. As a team, the Brewers rank 14th in OPS in the National League in June while falling out of first place after a strong start.

Cain broke in with the Brewers in 2010, then spent the next seven seasons in Kansas City before returning to Milwaukee as a free agent in 2018. He’s in the final season of a five-year, $80 million deal. The move comes on the same date that Cain reached 10 years of major league service.

“It just got to a point where it’s probably time,” Cain said in Cincinnati. “I haven’t been performing like I would’ve liked, but the situation is what it is. I’ve had a great career. I can’t really be upset about anything, but, yeah, it’s time. I wish all my teammates the best, coaches, trainers, everybody that I’ve played with or met throughout my entire career, I wish them nothing but the best. It’s been a really fun ride for me for sure.”

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Cain is a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner.

He also concluded in the top 10 in MVP voting twice in his career.

“No doubt, he did his part,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “At the end, it was time for this. It was just time.”

Cain was replaced in the roster by journeyman outfielder Jonathan Davis, who was called up from Triple-A Nashville.

“I would say it was mutual to part ways,” he said. “We have a really good team. I don’t think I was contributing the way I would’ve liked. I feel like they definitely had to make a move. I definitely would’ve liked to play a lot better — contribute to the team a little bit more — but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this year.

“At the end of the day, it’s been fun. I think that team can go really far. They’re really well-coached, well-managed. Those guys play their hearts out. I’m definitely going to miss them. It’s been a fun ride for sure.”

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Russell Wilson ‘feels great’ after first minicamp with Denver Broncos

Year 1 of the Russell Wilson experience for the Denver Broncos officially got underway Monday as the team went through the first day of a three-day voluntary veteran minicamp.

The Broncos completed the blockbuster trade to obtain Wilson in March, and he has since quickly found his way around the city at sporting events and the Children’s Hospital. His purchase of a suburban Denver mansion became a viral sensation.

But Monday was the first time Wilson and the rest of his teammates were on the field with Broncos first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett and the team’s staff.

It was a heavyweight battle of enthusiasm and energy with Hackett filling in at running back to work through some play-action scenarios when many of the team’s players were in special-teams drills.

“I told him at the end, congratulations on our first practice together,” Wilson said. “… To give him little handoffs here and there, somebody called him ‘White Lightning,’ I don’t know, but he looked good over there.”

“I always wanted to play running back,” Hackett said. “… There was some special teams going on … we’ve got to get out there and give them a look, I feel like I have it a realistic look.”

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Asked about his 40 time, Hackett added “let’s not talk about that.”

Wilson has spent time with the team’s pass-catchers and running backs in recent weeks, first at throwing sessions in San Diego shortly after the trade to go with some workouts locally as the Broncos opened their offseason program April 16.

But the existing minicamp, though still limited by the league’s offseason practice rules, was the first practice with all of the coaches mingling with all of the players. And it was clear Wilson’s presence has changed the dynamic of things.

“This guy loves practice, out there at there at the end, he’s like ‘We’re done, can’t we do more?’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’d love to, but baby steps,'” Hackett said of Wilson.

“To be here, standing right here, now that I’m here, it feels right,” Wilson said. “It feels great, I’m excited about it, and also too, at the same time, there’s a lot more to do.”

Hackett stated the Broncos are in the beginning of the installation of the playbook on offense.

“[Monday] was just kind of the very basics of what we do,” he said. “Then we’ll slowly start expanding that with the guys through Phase 2 and the OTAs.”

The Broncos have missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, and Wilson, when he starts Week 1, will be the 11th different quarterback and 12th different player to start a game behind center for the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired after the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win.

Running back Phillip Lindsay started behind center versus the New Orleans Saints during the 2020 season. “Been an amazing experience so far,” Wilson said. “… If I was going to go somewhere, I had to go somewhere that wanted to win. And this is one of those places that definitely wants to do that.”

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Indianapolis Colts signing CB Stephon Gilmore to two-year deal

The Indianapolis Colts are giving cornerback Stephon Gilmore a two-year, $23 million contract that contains $14 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Gilmore becomes the second veteran addition to the Colts’ secondary this week, after Indianapolis signed safety Rodney McLeod on Thursday.

Cornerback was a position of need for the Colts after they traded starter Rock Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders for pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and did not re-sign starter Xavier Rhodes.

The Colts have reshaped their defense after the departure of coordinator Matt Eberflus, who is now the head coach in Chicago, and hired Gus Bradley as his replacement. Indianapolis’ defense now features the five-time Pro Bowler Gilmore, Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner on the line, linebacker Darius Leonard, and one of the league’s best slot corners in Kenny Moore. All five of those players have been selected to at least one Pro Bowl in their careers.

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“He kept saying we would spar, he knows the score and knows what was going on but we ended up sparring [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and he had to get pulled out of the spar. Bearing in mind I wasn’t even in training camp but he had to get pulled out because he was beginning to get a bit of a pasting.

Gilmore played the 2021 season with the Carolina Panthers, who traded a 2023 third-round pick to the New England Patriots in October to get him.

The Panthers added the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year in hopes that he could replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who experienced a season-ending foot injury in Week 3 at the Houston Texans.

Gilmore, 31, was on the physically unable to perform list when he arrived in Carolina, still recovering from offseason surgery on a torn quad and not eligible to return until Week 6.

He was activated in Week 8 and played the final eight matches, starting three. He had an interception in his Carolina debut at Atlanta to preserve a 19-13 triumph then followed that with another in his home debut versus New England. After the season, he was added to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

He said after the trade that he did not appreciate the way New England handled his quad injury, suffered in Week 15 of the 2020 season.

Gilmore, who grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, had told ESPN before a late-season game at Buffalo that he would like to return to Carolina. The Panthers liked the veteran leadership brought to a young Carolina secondary.

Complicating the issue was 2018 second-round pick Donte Jackson, 26, who re-signed with the Panthers on a three-year deal last month. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Bills, Gilmore has 27 interceptions and 116 passes defended in 10 seasons.

“Ugas was there and after he was inviting me out for dinner with him and his missus. I thought: ‘That’s a bit odd,’ I look at that and think ‘I fancy my chances.’ If he does beat Spence, which I believe is not likely, but it is a fight I’d love in the future.

“I didn’t take him up on dinner. I told him I was busy but as I was walking through the casino, I see him and his missus having food and I went over to say hello and thought ‘That couldn’t have gone anymore awkward really.’

“It’s not that we are from the same country or live the same lifestyle so I was thinking ‘Why does he want me to go to dinner?’ What are we going to do? Sit there and stare at each other. I found it very odd. I don’t know what his motive was.

“I would love to do it for real. I want to test myself against the best in the division. Every challenge they put in front of me I come through it. I’m top five in every governing body and No. 1 in Britain.”

Benn is closing in on a world title shot which he hopes to get later this year or in 2023, as long as he defeats California-based Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs), a southpaw from South Africa.

Benn added: “I’ve done a lot of southpaw sparring and I love challenges, I love overcoming them. I think I have shown in my last few performances that I can beat any style put in front of me. I think I fill him in, to be honest. I’m prepared for a hard fight.”

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Green Bay Packers sign veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins

The Green Bay Packers are finally adding to their receiver room by signing veteran Sammy Watkins.

The team revealed the deal on Thursday but didn’t reveal terms. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Watkins’ contract is for one year and worth up to $4 million.

The Packers have lost three of their top receivers this offseason, headed by All-Pro Davante Adams in a trade to the Las Vegas Raiders. They also lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Chiefs) and Equanimeous St. Brown (Bears) in free agency.

The Packers’ top remaining receivers are Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers.

They haven’t used a first-round pick on a receiver since 2002 (Javon Walker) but have two picks in each of the first two rounds after the Adams trade, putting them in position to address that spot high in the draft.

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Packers head coach Matt LaFleur coached Watkins with the Rams in 2017, and Packers receivers coach Jason Vrable was in Buffalo when the Bills drafted him fourth overall in 2014.

Watkins, 28, has had difficulty staying healthy throughout his career.

He continued to struggle with injuries in his only season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2021, ending with career lows in receptions (27) and receiving yards (394).

He has missed 30 matches over the past seven seasons, and he hasn’t played a full season since his 2014 rookie season.

He made two of the biggest catches of the season for Baltimore, setting up winning scores versus the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, but Watkins had no catches — and just three targets — in his final four games as he fell behind Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay on the depth chart.

In his eight-year career, Watkins has totaled 348 receptions for 5,059 yards receiving and 34 touchdown catches for the Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs and Ravens.

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Nets’ Andre Drummond says final two regular-season outings are ‘must-win games’ for Brooklyn

As the Brooklyn Nets prepare for their final two regular-season games of the season, they do so in control of their own playoff destiny.

If the Nets — currently seeded eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 42-38 record — win their final two matches, they will lock up the seventh seed and would host the East’s first play-in game next Tuesday night.

Veteran center Andre Drummond left no doubt where his team’s mindset is heading into Friday’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers — the team that sits one slot ahead of the Nets.

“I think they’re must-win games for us,” Drummond said after Friday’s shootaround. “I think we know what’s ahead of us and we know what’s going to happen if we do win these two games. I think our sense of urgency is a little bit higher than what it was before, and I think we’re prepared to take that next step.”

The Nets, who have dealt with a range of injuries, a teamwide COVID-19 outbreak in December and Kyrie Irving’s part-time status from January to March because of his decision not to get the COVID vaccine, remain confident that they can still catch the rhythm they need to make a long run in the postseason.

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“If we’re playing well heading into the play-in game, then those two games take care of itself and we should win ’em,” guard Seth Curry said. “But if we’re not playing well, then we’re probably not going to get out of the play-in game anyways.

“So it’s just a matter of [playing] our style of play, having confidence and being in a good rhythm playing our best basketball.”

Both Drummond and Curry have been solid since being dealt, along with Ben Simmons and two future first round picks, to the Nets in a trade-deadline deal that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Despite the fact that Simmons still hasn’t played for the Nets because of a back injury — and a playoff return remains a very unclear possibility — Brooklyn remains steadfast in the belief that they can still win a title this year.

“I think it’s everybody’s mindset in the beginning of the year, is to try and win a championship,” Drummond said. “I think with this team we have a special group of guys here — anything is possible, it’s the NBA at the end of the day. Anything can happen.

“We just got to hang our hat, put our best foot forward … so we do have that mindset that we can win. I think everybody has that same mindset. For us, we’re just trying to stay within ourself and make things happen.”

For Curry, that means continuing to play through pain in his left ankle.

After missing the past two games, Curry scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 110-98 win over the New York Knicks. “It’s pretty much the same, man,” Curry said of his ankle injury.

“Just trying to manage it — and got through it and played through some pain. So it’s just an everyday managing thing, trying to get through end of the season into the playoffs, giving the team what I can. I feel like if Tiger can shoot 1 under at Augusta yesterday, I can play through a little bit of pain for the rest of the season.”

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Buffalo Bills agree to deals with Duke Johnson, Jamison Crowder

The Buffalo Bills made two moves to bolster their offense Monday, agreeing to a deal with veteran running back Duke Johnson while also reportedly signing receiver Jamison Crowder to a one-year contract.

Johnson is signing a one-year deal with the team, his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The moves comes after Buffalo had lost out on running back J.D. McKissic to the Washington Commanders last week.

The Bills originally agreed to terms with McKissic last Tuesday, but the Commanders ended up swooping in, and — after initially not offering McKissic a deal — gave him a two-year contract worth up to $7 million, similar to what Buffalo was offering.

“I’ve had it before where the agent has agreed with you on something and then someone else calls and says, ‘Hey, what if I add a million dollars? Or what if I do this? What if I guarantee this?'” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said last week, expressing his frustration with how Washington handled the situation.

“Once you have an agreement the agent’s supposed to say it’s over. And this agent did that. And this agent told the other club it’s over. But the other club didn’t back off.”

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Similar to McKissic, Johnson, 28, has had success as a receiving back in the past, starting his career with five consecutive seasons with 400-plus receiving yards. He has 12 career receiving touchdowns after spending four seasons with the Browns, two with the Texans and one with the Dolphins.

The 2015 third-round pick played in five games for the Dolphins last year and had some success on the ground.

Johnson had two 100-yard rushing performances in the last four games of the season and 330 total rushing yards and three touchdowns on 71 carries for Miami.

Buffalo needed to add depth to the running back room after Matt Breida hit free agency following one season with the Bills and signed with the New York Giants on Monday. Breida saw limited action with the Bills, playing on 13.1% of the team’s offensive snaps. Johnson will likely be in a similar position on the roster and will have to earn his snaps.

Crowder, who turns 29 in June, led the Jets in receptions in each of the last three seasons, becoming the first player since Jerricho Cotchery (2007-09) to do that. On the downside, his production dropped each year, as he went from 78 catches to 59 to 51, with injuries as a big factor.

Plagued by soft-tissue leg injuries, Crowder missed nine matches over the last two seasons. He was on the reserve/COVID-19 list for one of those games while recovering from a groin injury.

Despite the injuries, Crowder has been one of the league’s most productive slot receivers. From 2019 to ’21, the 5-foot-9, 177-pound Crowder caught 132 passes out of the slot, eighth-most in the NFL.

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Arizona Cardinals release starting inside linebacker Jordan Hicks

The Arizona Cardinals released veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks on Wednesday.

Hicks, 29, played at a high level last season, registering 116 tackles and four sacks, but the Cardinals are making the move to give fellow inside linebacker Zaven Collins, drafted in the first round last year, more playing time.

The Cardinals had told Collins he would be the starter last season after selecting him 16th overall. Hicks said last year he was “pissed off” when initially told he had lost his starting job to Collins.

He requested a trade, which never happened, and the seven-year veteran ended up starting all 17 matches.

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By getting released now, Hicks will be able to sign with another team before free agency officially starts next week.

The move will save the Cardinals $6.5 million on their salary cap but also will leave $3 million in dead money on their books.

Hicks signed with the Cardinals in 2019 and posted more than 100 tackles in all three seasons with Arizona, including a career-best 150 his first year there.

He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 draft. He missed 21 regular-season games due to a variety of injuries during his time with the Eagles but didn’t miss a game (all starts) in three seasons with the Cardinals.

Hicks has career numbers of 638 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

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Green Bay Packers to hire Rich Bisaccia to fix special teams

The Packers will ultimately have an experienced coach running their special teams. They are expected to hire veteran special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who most recently served as the Raiders’ interim head coach.

A source stated Monday that an announcement is coming soon after some final details are worked out. NFL Network was first to report that the Packers were expected to hire Bisaccia.

He will be the third person to coordinate the Packers special teams in as many seasons, but he’s the first one with NFL experience doing so. Bisaccia was in his 20th season as an NFL special teams coordinator when the Raiders made him their interim coach following Jon Gruden’s resignation during 2021.

He joined the Raiders in 2018 after previously coaching special teams for the Cowboys (2013-17), Chargers (2011-12) and Buccaneers (2002-10). The 61-year-old also had 19 years of college coaching experience before entering the NFL.

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Bisaccia will replace Maurice Drayton, who was fired last week following the Packers’ disastrous special teams performance in the NFL divisional playoff loss to the 49ers.

Drayton’s units had a field goal and a punt blocked, the latter of which was returned for a touchdown. The Packers became the first team in 33 years to have both a punt and a field goal blocked during the same playoff game.

The playoff game was not an anomaly. The Packers special teams ranked 31st in ESPN’s FPI and dead last in Rick Gosselin’s widely respected special teams rankings. Drayton was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2021 after serving for two years as an assistant to Shawn Mennenga, whose units ranked 26th and 29th. Neither had been a special teams coordinator in the NFL before coming to Green Bay.

The Packers special teams problem isn’t unique to Matt LaFleur’s tenure.

Dating to the start of Mike McCarthy’s run as head coach in 2006, the Packers have ranked in the top 10 in special teams only once (2007). In that span, they have finished in the top half of the special teams rankings only four times — most recently 16th in 2017. In that same span, Bisaccia’s special teams have six top-10 finishes plus a No. 11 ranking this past season.

LaFleur acknowledged after the season that a coaching modification might not be the only necessary fix for the Packers’ special teams.

“Just one takeaway, just watching that game back, San Francisco had a lot of their starters on special teams,” LaFleur said. “That’s going to be something that I want to do some studies around the league and see how many teams operate that way. Again, does it have some inherent risk? Absolutely.”

Bisaccia interviewed for the Raiders’ permanent head-coaching job, which ultimately went to Josh McDaniels even after quarterback Derek Carr was among the players who threw their public support behind the interim coach.

Bisaccia went 7-5 after Gruden resigned, and the Raiders (10-7 overall) made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

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UFC 269 Who has the edge in the two title fights?

Two titles will be on the line Saturday night at UFC 269. The UFC’s final pay-per-view of 2021 will feature two veteran lightweights who have waited a long time to be a champion.

Brazil’s Charles Oliveira (31-8) claimed the vacant title in May and will make his first defense versus Dustin Poirier (28-6) in the main event of UFC 269 in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV).

Even though Oliveira is the champ, and has won nine in a row, many in the sport consider he needs to defeat Poirier to validate his status as a real champ.

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Poirier, of Louisiana, could have fought for the championship earlier this year, but he elected to take a lucrative detour versus Conor McGregor.

Now that he’s coming off back-to-back victories over McGregor, Poirier has set his focus solely on claiming the undisputed title, something he’s never done in his decorated MMA career.

In the other title fight of the night, Amanda Nunes (21-4) makes her sixth bantamweight title defense versus Julianna Pena. Nunes has made it look relatively easy at the top in recent years, as she has dominated both the 135- and 145-pound weight classes.

Pena, of Spokane, Washington, has been very vocal in her belief that she is the one to truly challenge the female GOAT. Pena is only 2-2 in her past four fights, but she has a physical, grinding style of offensive wrestling, which she used most recently to defeat former U.S.

Olympic wrestler Sara McMann at UFC 257 in January. As usual, Nunes is a strong favorite to retain her title, but does Pena have a chance at the upset?

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Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo to have surgery for torn ligament in right thumb

Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo will undergo surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, the team revealed Wednesday.

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Adebayo is expected to be out for four to six weeks, which would cause him to miss between 15 to 20 matches.

“Can’t do anything about it,” Adebayo stated of the surgery, which will take place Sunday. “It was my only option.” Adebayo, 24, has blossomed into one of the NBA’s best two-way centers, able to switch out onto virtually any guard defensively while also being a hub of Miami’s offensive attack.

Through 18 games this campaign, Adebayo is averaging 18.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

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He suffered the injury during Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The Heat lost again Wednesday night, 111-85 to the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.

Veteran Dewayne Dedmon stepped into Adebayo’s place in the starting lineup versus the Cavs, scoring 11 points in 31 minutes. Miami is still down another big, forward Markieff Morris, as he’s been out since early November after injuring his neck in a loss in Denver.

“Bam is one of the most dynamic, unique players in the league,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stated. “There’s not going to be one solution for that. It’s going to take some unique solutions and some thought and we’ll figure it out.

There’s going to be some things we have to do differently. There’s no way that we can make it look the same. He’s an absolute hybrid on both ends of the court, one of the most unique players in the entire association.”

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